The fifth edition of Hero MTB Shimla 2016 was flagged off here on Friday.
The two - day race, with 105 participants from India and abroad, will cover over 120 km, passing through wobbly single tracks, rickety roads and scenic meadows of Shimla and Solan districts.
"With ever increasing population of Indian riders, we initiated this separate venture of MTB Shimla 2016 to foster this growing interest, " Mohit Sood, president of event organiser Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA) said.
For the first time in the rally, it won't just be riders that will be competing with each other but also the cities, Sood explained.
HASTPA has introduced the "champion city" format for the first time. Riders will be representing their cities and will be collectively competing on behalf of their respective cities.
He said there would be nine teams, comprising Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Noida, that will enter the city championship. For a city to qualify for the championship a minimum of three riders must be representing that city.
There will be four categories at this year's race. They are open men, open master solo, students and open women solo.
The rally will pass through Tara Devi, Sheel Gaaon, Anandpur, Sadhulpul, Janedghat, Dochi, Kanechi, Koti, Mundaghat, Chini Bunglow and terminate in Shimla.
German rider Sarah Appelt is one of the favourites for the women's title at MTB Shimla.
Having finished Hero MTB Himalaya last year, she is well aware and ready for the challenge this time.
HASTPA also organises the Hero MTB Himalaya every year, considered one of the toughest in the world.